I glance at the paint-stained girl walking beside me.
"Yes, this is Oz," I confirm. "The land where people don't die no matter how badly they're hurt. They just ... exist."
"Oh." Madeleine was silent for a thoughtful moment. "But this is a beautiful place. My, but I can't wait to paint it."
"I'm quite certain you'll get the chance," I assure her, putting a hand on her arm and glancing at the paintbox she's carrying. "After all, we get to stay in Ozma's palace tonight as honored guests." There are benefits of being an author, after all, especially in worlds that are now in the public domain. "I've arranged it all. It'll be such fun."
"It certainly sounds like it," Madeleine agrees. "It - oh my!"
At that moment, we are approached by the Cowardly Lion and the Hungry Tiger, our official escorts to Ozma's palace."
"They're friendly," I assure Madeleine. "They aren't going to hurt us."
"Yes," the Hungry Tiger moans. "I could gobble you both up in a moment, I'm so hungry, but you're both such beautiful girls, and I just couldn't."
"He's too big hearted," I add.
We're taken to the palace, where we meet with Ozma, Dorothy, Betsy, and Trot, and we have such a lovely time together. The three human girls are thoroughly intrigued by this girl from fairy tales, and especially by her story of how she slept a hundred years with Sleeping Beauty.
Eventually, it grows late, and it's time for us to go to bed. Madeleine and I share a bedroom that opens into a large, empty room with blank walls and a few stools of varying heights.
"Oh," Madeleine breaths, when she sees it. "Oh, Kendra, do you think ..."
"Ozma gave us these rooms so that you might paint this one for her," I inform her. "I've told her about your love of painting and the fact that you don't sleep much - they're quite used to that here, what with all their Scarcrows, and Tin Woodmen, and Jack Pumkinheads. She'd be quite disappointed if you didn't paint these rooms. Now, are you coming to bed now, or is the itch to paint too bad?"
I shouldn't have asked. She's already plopped her box onto the tallest stool and is digging in search of the perfect colors and brushes. I smile and turn back to the bedroom, wondering what scene of Oz will greet us when we return tomorrow.